First it was the book, then the series, and now the movie has everyone talking; some with a sense of delicious naughtiness and others with a sneer. But even if you have vowed never to read it or see the film (or never confess to either) you have to admit, Fifty Shades of Grey has created a sensation that the media loves or loves to hate. Like with any hot topic, there are going to be the usual marketing spin-offs. From the obvious things like lingerie lines and sex toys to the Christian Grey teddy bear, and all manner of baby bibs, stretch and grows and changing mats proclaiming how much mummy liked the book. And then there is the  50 Shades of Grey board game; revealing your sluttiest moments in front of your dinner guests is more, um, awkward, than fun for the whole family, surely. Amidst the titillation there is always someone who will go a step too far. Surf came up with a laundry detergent called Flirty Shades of Grey, complete with a dangling set of handcuffs in its label design (oh dear).

Local businesses are getting in on the act too. Walking through town, I saw a sign in a paint store window, proclaiming how they had all manner of colours “including 50 shades of grey” – har har. This got me thinking about how other businesses might introduce a shade of ‘grey’ to their marketing messages.  Here’s what I came up with:

  • Fifty shades of neigh – horse treks
  • Fifty shapes of clay – pottery exhibition
  • Fifty days of play – start of season promo for sporting competition
  • Fifty shades of que – Spanish lessons
  • Fifty plates of chez – French cuisine course
  • Fifty Shades of Gay –a book on coming to terms with sexuality and gender issues
  • $14.50 Shaves of Grey – a barber’s shop promoting concession rates for seniors
  • Fifty Glade house spray – sensual new air freshener
  • 50 days of ‘K – a breakfast cereal campaign for a slim, sexier body
  • 50 shaves plus spey – vet clinic drive to up its de-sexing tally
  • Fifty grades of pay – career advisor
  • Fifty Fengs of Shui – Eastern philosophy interior decorators
  • Fifty shades of whey – cheese-making master class
  • Thrifty saves on k’s – rental car promotion
  • Fifty Shades of Grey – a senior citizens sex seminar

Jokes aside, there is nothing wrong with trying to leverage something topical to draw attention to your business. Choosing something that is on everyone’s lips provides a connection with something familiar. The trick of course is to keep it relevant and use good judgement in how far you can go. Know the difference between parody and plagiarism.  Whilst 50 Shades of Grey isn’t everyone’s innuendo of choice, clever plays on words can sometimes add a touch of fun to a business brand or marketing campaign.

If you want some help to add a shade of humour to your marketing content, try using BigWords. Fiona Cole is a professional copywriter with a talent for creating original and compelling content that will help set you apart from your competitors.

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